Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tarting it up

Spent today at Ely Cathedral - about once a month I get the chance to go and be a ‘Day Chaplain’, which means saying prayers on the hour over the Cathedral PA and being available to anyone who might want to chat, about pretty much anything. It was raining and grey, so I didn’t manage to get any outside pictures, but I did get some of the inside of the Cathedral - they were only taken on my pda, so no great works of Art, I’m afraid…The Space at the Cathedral is awesome, and for a thousand year old building is light and airy. The stonework is incredible and the attention to detail in the stone carving is amazing. It is a Cathedral that needs lots of superlatives!

This is the Nave, and at the far end is the great West Door, you get something of the height of the main part of the building in my fuzzy photo…

This is the view the other way from where the last photo was taken, with light coming down from the Octagon/lantern tower above. Behind the screen in the middle of the picture are the Choir Stalls and then further up the ‘high Altar’ where most services used to be focussed (or not, because no one could see them). The Altar Table is usually in the empty space in the Octagon area but has been cleared to make way for some concerts taking place in the Cathedral over the next few days. It is an impressive building, but the reason for the post title is because as I listened in to one of the tours I was reminded (I knew it before, but had forgotten) that in Medieaval Times the Cathedral was painted in bright colours over the stonework. I took a photo of some of the leftovers of those paintings…

On the right hand side (where the yellow light is) you can see the remains of a ‘domesday’ style painting within the chapel. The colours were bright, even garish, and it wasn’t uncommon to cover the interior of a church in these kind of paintings. Looking at the Cathedral now most people would be overwhelmed by the beauty of the simplicity of the stonework - and there are still plenty of places where there’s fancy carving to keep the eye occupied if that’s your style…

And it struck me that we’re very good in the Church at adorning things unneccessarily! We may not do it with our buildings in the same way as we once did, but we often do it with our services, our words, our dogma and theology. None of these are bad things, unless we cover up what is already beautiful and splendid and has meaning and depth and wonder.

1 comment:

Dr.John said...

I loved the pictures. How fortunate you were to offer prayers in such a place.
When we went to England we visited some cathedrals. They were beautiful.